Maloney & Poe Introduce Legislation to Reauthorize Debbie Smith Act, End Rape Kit Backlog

Mar 21, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), author of the Debbie Smith Act, joined with Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) to introduce H.R. 5341, the Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act, legislation to reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act and dedicate much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct forensic analysis of DNA evidence collected from crime scenes, including untested rape kits.

“As the author of the Debbie Smith Act, which has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law, I know how important this grant program is to local law enforcement and victims of crime across the country. It is essential that it be reauthorized as precincts work to process and match DNA evidence, including sexual assault kits, in a timely manner,” said Rep. Maloney. “The resources from this grant program have enabled law enforcement to make 165,000 DNA matches in criminal cases since 2005. This is critical to bringing justice to victims, and also prevents offenders from committing future crimes. I’m very proud of what this program has accomplished, and I hope that Congress will act quickly to reauthorize it for another five years.”    

“Roughly every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted,” said Rep. Poe. “The reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act will continue the efforts to protect victims of rape and sexual assault, as well as prosecute criminals by actively pursuing the perpetrators through DNA from rape kits. Often victims of sexual assault are forced to live in fear of their attacker, endlessly waiting on the results of their rape kit. The kits are caught in a lengthy backlog, leaving the victim without justice. Not knowing who their attacker was is an additional punishment to the victim, created by bureaucratic excuses. DNA evidence provided by rape kits helps identify the culprits and frees the wrongfully accused. Victims of violent crime should not live in fear and be denied justice while their attackers go about their everyday lives due to a bureaucratic backlog. It’s time to put these dangerous criminals behind bars and give survivors of sexual assault the justice they deserve.”

“I want to thank Rep. Maloney for her tireless leadership on this incredibly important legislation,” said Debbie Smith, sexual assault survivor for whom the legislation is named. Since 2004, we have worked together to bring vital resources to the crime labs throughout the country as they work diligently on backlogs of DNA evidence from unsolved crimes. Justice matters. It matters to victims and their families, it matters to the public, and it matters to the wrongly accused. DNA helps us to accurately identify perpetrators while exonerating the truly innocent.”

“The man who violently raped and robbed me at gunpoint is now behind bars thanks to the incredible power of DNA,” said Natasha Alexenko, founder of Natasha’s Justice Project. “The Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act will help keep our communities safe from harm and ensure justice is served fairly, swiftly and effectively for all of us.”

“The Debbie Smith Act has helped bring justice to so many victims. It has also helped take thousands of serial rapists off the streets, which has prevented countless sexual assaults,” said Scott Berkowitz, President and Founder of RAINN. “I’m grateful to Rep. Maloney for her tireless work to create the original Debbie Smith Act and ensure that it is renewed so that it continues to make America safer.”